Proposed Ballot Measures Touch on Health Care-Related Issues
Last week, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West submitted two health care-related ballot initiatives to the California Office of the Attorney General, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Details of SEIU-UHW Proposed Ballot Measures
Under the Charity Care Act of 2012, not-for-profit hospitals would be required to provide charity care services equal to 5% of patient revenue (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/23). There currently are no rules governing how much charity care hospitals must provide to qualify for tax breaks.
Under the Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2012, all hospitals would be prohibited from charging more than 25% above the actual cost of providing care. According to SEIU-UHW, California hospitals charge patients between 450% to 1,000% more than what it costs to provide care (Woodruff, Business Insider, 11/26). The fair pricing measure would expire five years after implementation once larger provisionsÂ of the federal health reform law take effect.
Union members said they plan toÂ start gathering signatures in January to qualify the measures for the November 2012 ballot. The initiatives areÂ an elementÂ of the union's "Let's Get Healthy California" campaign, which was launched asÂ part of contract negotiations with Catholic Healthcare West (Sacramento Business Journal, 11/23).
Separate Proposed Ballot Measure Would Fund Rx Monitoring System
Meanwhile, the secretary of state has cleared a Danville resident to begin circulating a proposed ballot measure to place a temporary tax on prescription drugs sold in California to fund the state's electronic prescription drug monitoring database.
The measure would require drug manufacturers and importers to pay a quarter-cent-per-pill tax that would begin Jan. 1, 2013, and last for three years (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 11/23). Proponents have until April 19, 2012, to gather enough signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot.
Proceeds from the tax would go toward supporting the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, which tracks patients' prescription drug history in an effort to curb illegal sales and misuse of prescription medication (Lipsky, San Ramon Express, 11/23). According to the Legislative Analyst's Office and the state Department of Finance, the measure could generate $7 million annually.
The state Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement operates CURES, which is at risk of being shut down because of $71 million in budget cuts to the Department of Justice (Oakland Tribune, 11/23). State officials said they will make a decision in the next few weeks as to whether the database will be maintained despite the budget cuts.
CURES was established in 2009, and more than 8,000 physicians and pharmacists have signed up to use it (Risling, AP/Boston Globe, 11/26). The database contains information on more than 100 million prescriptions for controlled substances (Oakland Tribune, 11/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.